Are you about to choose your IB subjects as you dive into the IB Diploma program? Do you want to maximize your IB score and get a 40+?

If so, then choosing an Anticipated subject might just be the right choice for you.

What is an Anticipated subject?

An ‘Anticipated’ subject is just IB’s fancy name for an accelerated subject. When you sign up to study an Anticipated subject, you have about 1 year’s time to actually finish the entire subject.

This means that you will have only 5 subjects to worry about in the last year of IB. But this also means a lot more stress during the first year of IB when you have to cram 2 years of content into just 1 year.

Why on earth would I do an Anticipated subject?

Most people’s first reaction: What if I can’t physically learn that much content in just one year!?

Dispelling the anxiety: At my school, everyone (i.e., 150 of us) did one Anticipated subject.

I did Psychology SL Anticipated and achieved a 7, and so did 70% of my classmates. Most large IB schools around the world even choose to give students this choice.

Some schools even allow people to take 2 Anticipated subjects. Achieving a grade 7 in Anticipated is also very feasible (I’ll explain how in a second).

So don’t worry, the workload is doable. It’s been done before, and you can do it too!

Benefits of Anticipating a subject

Benefits Costs
Finish a whole course in one year, leaving more time to study other things in 2nd year of IB Larger workload for the first year of IB
Less stress during Final Exams, having to study only 5 subjects You need to be a very organised, self-driven learner with a solid work ethic
Have experience with a real IB examination before your five other final exams in second year More stress during first year (but this is manageable)

Tips for choosing an Anticipated subject

You can only choose SL subjects to Anticipate. Even if it was possible, it’d be close to intellectual suicide to try Anticipate an HL subject.

Most subjects are great to Anticipate, but I would personally stay away from the more notorious Anticipated subjects. This is a blog that expresses my own honest perspective on things to do with study and the IB, so I’m not going to hesitate in telling you my opinion.

  • History is already infamously difficult as a two-year course. I personally wouldn’t select it as an Anticipated subject.
  • English A Literature or Lang Lit – a very small number of 7s for the two-year course, so I wouldn’t bet on getting a 7 in Anticipated. Again, it’s doable but you better be great at English already.
  • Mathematics – university admissions tend to require at least two years of senior mathematics. However, mathematics is one of those courses that works well with Anticipated. Maths is more about practice and I think you can pick up maths skills quickly. English is more a process of marination–developing strong English analytical skills is a slow and gradual process.
  • Sciences – I’m not sure about the sciences. There isn’t much content in SL sciences like Chemistry and Physics (not sure about biology). You’re on your own for this one.

Second language subjects are fantastic to Anticipate if you are already somewhat proficient in the language.

I would advise most people to Anticipate a Group 3 Humanities subject (apart from History, of course!):

  • Psychology – a lot of people at my school did this. It worked great for me, but psychology is a lot of rote learning and material. It’s not an easy ride by any means, but it is probably more manageable than history.
  • Business and Management – even more people at my school anticipated B&M. Many people have the impression that it’s an ‘easy’ subject, but I can’t say anything on the topic because I’ve never done it. In the end, all subjects take time and commitment. Choosing the right anticipated subject is about knowing your strengths and considering the costs and benefits for you personally.


Doing an Anticipated subject is a good way to minimise stress and sleep deprivation in your second year of IB, with the trade-off being a slightly greater workload during your first year.

You experience a real IB exam before you do all your other exams in final year. I found that the familiarity with the exam procedure really helped with nerves and pre-exam anxiety.